Literary Maneuvers July 2019: "Final Girl"

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Thread: Literary Maneuvers July 2019: "Final Girl"

  1. #1
    Wɾ¡ʇ¡∩9 bdcharles's Avatar
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    Literary Maneuvers July 2019: "Final Girl"

    "Final Girl"
    650 words, deadline 23:59 GMT, Tuesday 16th July, 2019


    This month's prompt, as voted for by WF members, is "Final Girl", for which you are to write a maximum of 650 words of fiction. Pick your own title, write about whatever you want, in whatever prose style and interpreted as you see fit, as long as it's related in some way to the prompt. You decide the best way in which to dazzle your readers - and the judges.

    The judges this month are velo, -xXx- and, hmm, I think I'll give it a go, so bdcharles. If you're listed here and don't wish to judge, please let me know at once. Got room for one more ...

    If you win, you'll get a badge pinned to your profile plus a month’s access to Friends of Writing Forums (FoWF) where you’ll have access to hidden forums. Pretty neat, eh?

    A couple of points:

    Note 1: we will try a slightly different judging this month, superceding the current judging guidelines temporarily. SPaG and T&V stay as they are, but effect will be divided into two scores of five: evaluation, and reaction. Evaluation focuses on the technical aspects: synposise the story, consider whether the prompt is included, what story elements are used, is it consistent, and so on. Reaction is the personal bit: did the story touch you?

    Note 2: I'm off for 2 weeks, from the 24th July to 7th Aug so velo will be taking over for then. As a judge I'll be sure to have my scores in by then. Other judges, please send your scores and any other comms to velo this month. He will kick off next month's comp too.

    All entries that wish to retain their first rights should post in the LM Workshop Thread.

    All anonymous entries will be PMed to bdcharles and/or velo

    Lastly, why not check out this ancient text on how to best approach this task.


    • All forum rules apply. The LM competition is considered a creative area of the forum. If your story contains inappropriate language or content, do not forget add a disclaimer or it could result in disciplinary actions taken. Click here for the full list of rules and guidelines of the forum.
    • No Poetry! Nothing against you poets out there, but this isn’t a place for your poems. Head on over to the poetry challenges for good competition over there. Some of us fiction people wouldn’t be able to understand your work! Click here for the poetry challenges. Play the prose-poem game at your own risk.
    • No posts that are not entries into the competition are allowed. If you have any questions, concerns, or wish to take part in discussion please head over to the LM Coffee Shop. We’ll be glad to take care of your needs over there.
    • Editing your entry after posting isn’t allowed. You’ll be given a ten minute grace period, but after that your story may not be scored.
    • Only one entry per member.
    • The word limit is 650 words not including the title. If you go over - Your story will not be counted. Microsoft Word is the standard for checking this. If you are unsure of the word count and don't have Word, please send your story to me and I'll check it for you.

    There are a few ways to post your entry:

    1. If you aren't too concerned about your first rights, then you can simply post your entry here in this thread.
    2. You can opt to have your entry posted in the Workshop which is a special thread just for LM entries. You would put your story there if you wish to protect your first rights, in case you wish to have the story published one day. Note: If you do post it in the workshop thread, you must post a link to it here in this thread otherwise your story may not be counted.
    3. You may post your story anonymously. To do so, send your story to the host of the competition. If you wish to have us post it in the workshop thread then say so. Your name will be revealed upon the release of the score.

    Everyone is welcome to participate, including judges. A judge's entry will receive a review by their fellow judges, but it will not receive a score. Please refrain from 'like'-ing or 'lol'-ing an entry until the scores are posted.

    Judges: In the tradition of LM competitions of yore, if you could send the scores one week after the closing date it will ensure a timely release of results. Please see the Judging Guidelines if you have questions. Following the suggested formatting will be much appreciated, too.

    This competition will close on:
    Tuesday night 16th of July at 11:59:59 PM, GMT (not BST), on the dot. Please note any time differences where you are and be mindful of daylight savings time.

    Scores would be appreciated by the last day of the current month, at the latest, pretty please, cherry on top, mmm? Too much later than that and I will have to post with any scores that I have.

    Click here for the current time. Good luck!
    Last edited by bdcharles; July 7th, 2019 at 12:13 PM.

    Hidden Content Monthly Fiction Challenge

    Beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror which we are barely able to endure, and are awed,
    because it serenely disdains to annihilate us.
    - Rainer Maria Rilke, "Elegy I"


    Is this fire, or is this mask?
    It's the Mantasy!
    - Anonymous


    C'mon everybody, don't need this crap.
    - Wham!

  2. #2
    Woohoo! I get to set the first impression for July competition!

    Choose your model (647 words)

  3. #3

  4. #4
    Poor Little Wolfgang

    Gudrun knew it wasn't the taking part that counted but the winning. At any cost.

    At the age of ten she had cheated her way to her first tournament win - a Congress Minor in Böeblingen, winning two-hundred euros and a little, silver cup. Now, a few weeks later, she verged on becoming the youngest ever player to win the German Under-14 Chess Championship, taking place in Stuttgart Library. This was no easy matter with five-hour games and older opponents. Sixty boards at the start of each round meant plenty of informality. So many people meant liberties could be taken.

    The day before, she had won the morning game with the help of big-sis Heike, an FM (Federation Master) spectating and studying Gudrun's board. Heike went to the toilets and Gudrun followed. Covert, whispered advice was received, obeyed and consequently turned Gudrun's defensive position into attack. A probable draw became a win.

    In the evening game her opponent had jumped away from 'check' by playing 34. KH2. Gudrun had hoped he'd play 34. KH3, leaving her with a mate-in-one and avoiding a drawn game. While she thought of her next move, her opponent went to the toilet. Glancing around for observers and seeing none, she furtively scribbled and changed the '2' to '3' on both their scoresheets and moved his king to H3.

    When her opponent returned she checkmated him immediately.

    "Mate!" she said. "Danke-shöen!"

    They shook hands and she quickly reset the board, while her beaten opponent looked at his scoresheet, exasperated.

    Now, the final game - on Board One against young Wolfgang Popp. She needed just a draw for sole tournament-winning, record-breaking victory…

    …but Gudrun's position appeared hopelessly lost. This was due to exploiting her thirteen year-old opponent's occasional toilet trips by playing her move as soon as he got up and left - the result of this being his clock uselessly ticked down while he was absent. But she had played one of these moves too quickly and it was a mistake which he'd returned to exploit.

    Second place equalled nowhere to young Gudrun; she felt mad not sad: there's only one winner and everyone else is just everyone else.

    Over fifty games were still being played and Gudrun could see that nobody watched Board One - except her opponent.

    After a quick visit to the toilet to scribble down on an alternative scoresheet, Gudrun returned and the table was accidentally-on-purpose tipped over. Apologies were offered and accepted (Wolfgang's impending win encouraged magnanimity) and the chess pieces reset. But there was disagreement over the final position; Gudrun and her young male opponent looked at each other in shock and disbelief.

    "That's cheating," said Gudrun, aware that the first accuser carried more weight.

    Needing the win to overtake Gudrun, Wolfgang requested the arbiter. Whispering people began to gather round: parents and players whose games had finished. Gudrun's parents demanded Wolfgang's disqualification.

    Gudrun's mother looked down her nose at young Wolfgang, "Disgraceful!"

    The boy only had a mother but she stood back, embarrassed and apologetic. Owning red hair and fair skin, any description of the richness of her blush is surely unnecessary. She was heard to whisper more than once "I'm really sorry about all this."

    The arbiter studied both the scoresheets and announced he had no option but to declare a draw.

    So Gudrun was the champion.

    "At least it's all sorted," said Frau Popp, timidly.

    Five-hundred euros and a silver cup bigger than the last one - as was her winning smile, was Gudrun's swag. Eight players shared second place with Wolfgang a distant third. Constantly switching, from being pursed to trembling, was his lower lip.

    Poor little Wolfgang exited the library for some fresh air. He stared forlornly at his phone wondering: 'What's the point in having a Grandmaster app in the toilet if your opponent's a much better cheat?'

  5. #5
    Both of Me (642 words, language warning)
    Last edited by velo; July 14th, 2019 at 06:01 AM.

  6. #6

    by Emma Sohan

    "Thank you for entrusting us with your sons and daughters."

    Don't thank me, I didn't get a choice; I'm just her mother. The army? When she told me she wanted to attend West Point, I thought she was joking.

    Yet here we are. It's really difficult to get in. She worked hard. I'm so proud of her.

    General Williams is listing everything they do for safety. I'm supposed to hear how safe Janie will be, but all I'm hearing is the dangers.

    "For the first two weeks, you won't be allowed any contact with your son or daughter. At the two week mark, you will be allowed a 10-minute phone contact."

    Making his point painfully clear -- the Army is ripping my baby from me and her family, and now she's theirs. She's going to be in a brutal basic training. I'm allowed to worry every second, but I can't call to just hear her say she's okay. Or that she's not, or let me read in her voice what she's not saying.

    My husband whispers to me, "We should invite Rebecca to dinner."

    "Good idea," I whisper back.

    Jonathan's reminding me I have three daughters. Rebecca's married and already has two kids. Does he not remember giving her away? Elizabeth is an upcoming star, working 60-hour weeks for Google, a mere 3000 miles away. When Elizabeth drove away, cheerily waving me good-bye, I still had Janie.

    General Williams is still talking, but I can't listen; I know what's coming. I look over at Janie. I feel like I should memorize exactly what she looks like, but that's a cliche and overly dramatic. And I already know.

    My daughters looked up to me. I was their mother. I gave them life, and support, and direction. Then my first two daughters looked forward, not to me. I became part of their extended family, not their future. And now that's going to happen to Janie. I'm worried she's not ready for that.

    I'm not ready. They're taking my last girl. I changed her diaper. I held her when she cried. And now the best love I can give is ... letting her go? It's cruelly unnatural.

    "You have one minute and 30 seconds to say good-bye."

    I. Will. Not. Cry.

    I turn to Janie, she turns to me, and I hug her. Too hard, I know, she's not quite reciprocating. I hold on, probably too long, but I can't stop, and then I let go. She slides past me and hugs with her father. He whispers something in her ear, she smiles, and she kisses his cheek. He modeled proper parenting behavior.

    Then she's facing me again. Ridiculously, I don't know what to say, and I'd probably say the wrong thing, and she doesn't want drama. "Well, good luck." That does not begin to express my feelings.

    "Thanks." That's all she wanted to hear.

    "If there's anything ..." Anything she needs. Anything she wants. Anything I can do. But I can do nothing; I've been taken out of the game. "You know." I'm not making sense.

    Janie gives me another quick hug and says, "I love you, Mom." Trying to make me feel better -- now she's mothering me.

    "I love you too, Janie. Try to ..." I can't think of any allowable finish to that either. I shrug.

    "I will." And we stand there, with nothing left to say. It's awkward.

    "Cadets, please report."

    My stomach drops. I try to smile.

    She hoists her duffel bag onto her shoulder, turns away from me, and walks forward to the front of the auditorium. She stands in line with the other cadets. Mostly men, but a lot of women too. Someone opens a door and they all file out. She doesn't look back. Then they're gone.

    The door closes.
    Looking for people to beta a chapter or more of my book Modern Punctuation and Grammar: Tools for Better Writing. Go Hidden Content
    As always, useful information you can't find anywhere else.

    Hidden Content

  7. #7
    Wɾ¡ʇ¡∩9 bdcharles's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    In a far-distant otherworld.
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    (Anonymous submission)

    A Walk in the Dark (650w) [language]

    The movies never got it right, you could always see at night. I'd never known true darkness until the electricity finally failed and the glow of city lights utter black so thick I could feel it suffocating me.

    And the dead? Hollywood got them just as wrong, too. A teacher once told my class that every student was strong enough to break out of a pair of handcuffs- it's only pain that keeps us from using our full strength or running as fast as the human body is capable.

    You see where I'm going? The dead don't feel pain, they don't have limits. I've seen one run a horse down and tear its throat out at full gallop. They don't get tired, they don't stop when it hurts, they just keep coming at you; inhumanly fast and strong.

    I was part of a group right after the outbreak, of course, but an injury or a whimper at the wrong moment got them eaten one by one. David, my husband, went early. He panicked when he saw a dead one, a fatal reaction these days. He was a kind, sweet man, but too soft for this world and therefore a liability.

    It's better this way. Being alone means I don't have to worry about anyone else making a mistake that gets me eaten. Stepping down a rung on the food chain changes your priorities fast.

    The half-moon is bright tonight, a blessing and a curse. The dead see as well as we do but at least I have the small advantage of caution. In daylight they are able to avoid obstacles they don't see after sundown; an ankle snapped in a gopher hole won't hold their weight any better than it would for us.

    Scanning the ground ahead of me for anything that might break or shift under my weight, I move cautiously. I can't hear any dead but slow and steady wins the race, right?

    The faint scream is from somewhere in the valley ahead. It's human, followed quickly by the nails-on-chalkboard shriek of the dead.

    That guy's a goner. As I said, panic is a fatal reaction in this world.

    I freeze, listening for any reaction. The sound of a kill will bring the dead in from a long way off. Behind me, not close but not far enough for my taste, I hear branches snapping.

    The dead have heard.

    Shit. Speaking of dumb mistakes, I'm in the middle of a clearing and the grass is only a few inches high. There's no cover. If I run, I'll be heard. If the dead come through here, I'm fucked.

    I wasn't careful to keep the edge of the woods, I thought I could get through here quickly. Complacency is also an often-fatal condition these days. Silently berating myself I carefully drop to my belly in a low spot in the ground and freeze, my long hair covering my eyes.
    It's coming right toward me, crashing through the woods with no hesitation. My pulse is pounding but I dare not make the tiniest movement or sound.

    I feel like it's right on top of me when I hear bone snap and a thud as it falls. It must have broken its leg on the log I had passed a few moments ago.

    Shit again. A one-legged dead one is still dangerous and relentless with two good arms to crawl with. I've got to take care of it.
    I'll break this thing's neck quickly and be on my way before it can alert any others. I stand up and turn around, moving carefully but quickly toward the struggling thing. Raising my metal pipe high I...

    The shriek is behind me. I spin and see the dark form sprinting toward me at impossible speed. I had no idea it was there.

    As I said, complacency is a fatal condition these days.

    Hidden Content Monthly Fiction Challenge

    Beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror which we are barely able to endure, and are awed,
    because it serenely disdains to annihilate us.
    - Rainer Maria Rilke, "Elegy I"


    Is this fire, or is this mask?
    It's the Mantasy!
    - Anonymous


    C'mon everybody, don't need this crap.
    - Wham!

  8. #8
    High, all the time
    (645 words)
    Warning: sex, drugs and rock n roll

    Let the base kick

    “Chug! Chug! Chug! Chug!” the chant surged over the base. Elsa obliged, chucking back one shot after another, eyes closed to the chanting crowd enveloping her. She finished all five to a crescendo, arms raised in triumph. Looking in from the edges of the troupe, backlit in neon strobes, a goddess among her worshippers.

    “Mate, who is that girl?”

    “The first girl on the dance floor and the last girl to leave the club. Give her some of your pills and she’s yours for the night.”

    Another night, another dream

    Elsa’s beau for the night was gorgeous. But he had nothing on her, especially when she took to the dance floor. Grace, energy, emotion. She was the embodiment of rhythm. She never did understand just how good she looked.

    “Girl, you dance like a demon,” he said as the music chilled, giving him the chance to sway with her. She was on him instantly. Briefly taken aback by her ferocity, his tongue soon explored hers as she ran passionate fingers through his hair. She broke off abruptly, leaving him gulping; a fish in air. She tasted of fire and ash.

    “Don’t go anywhere, Silvio.” She said, sauntering off in the direction of the toilets with her girls. Hypnotised by her swinging arse, he didn’t even notice she had his name completely wrong.

    White lines, running through my mind

    The red sofas in the members area blended with Elsa’s red dress, but there was no chance of missing the princess of the party. She snorted a white line from his finger, her pupils bursting wide as she cackled into the smoke-filled air.

    She smeared some of the powder over her bust, mingling with her sweat, intending for him to take a hit. But one of her girls beat him to it, licking it off then raising her tongue to meet Elsa’s. Dusty bitterness mingled with cherry lip balm and tequila.

    Wake me up before you go go

    Morning broke upon Elsa: blissful moments when she remembered nothing. Disentangling from bedsheets she regarded the unfamiliar bedroom. Fragments returned: partying to golden oldies, a handsome stranger, a vomit strewn taxi ride, carnal pleasures. But enough of remembering, time to get busy forgetting. The bed and flat, were empty; not morning at all but well into the day.

    The house was too quiet, a void waiting to be filled, remedied by flicking on the radio. Gitterbug. She found vitamin tablets and painkillers and foraged a breakfast from a surprisingly well-stocked kitchen, and left without looking back.

    Jump up, jump up and get down

    The dancefloor was a mosh of flesh and sweat and tempo. Where others jumped, Elsa soared. Where others stepped to the beat, Elsa was the beat. She didn’t exist when the rhythm took her. Some say she danced like she was possessed. But the opposite was true. Her mind left her, taking with it her demons, leaving only movement. Only here was she truly free.

    Her eyes were closed against the strobe lights, creating a hypnogogic aurora on the inside of her eyelids. Oblivious to those around her, the music blew her away.

    Live fast, die young, bad girls do it well

    The base was muffled in the toilets; the wracking sobs were not. Elsa pitifully clawed at the graffiti scribbled cubicle door. It felt like her grief had grown into a tumour which was trying to force itself through her throat. But it was too big. Instead it pushed out torrents of tears. Her head felt like it might explode. Every time the memory caught up with her it felt so raw, like it had just happened yesterday.

    She missed him. So much it was physical. She had to forget. If only for a while.

    You’re gone and I gotta stay high, all the time, to keep you off my mind…

  9. #9
    The Final Girl
    (wd. ct. 646)

    Pinky Rose was an odd girl; always had been. Walking with purpose across the Commons, she would make the trek in record time. Hair in the wind, and those incredibly long legs, turned more than one head as she went. She was slender, wore long skirts with boots, loose, gauzy tops and her thick, wild hair was often tied back with string or a piece of yarn. She looked like a hippie throw-back, often laughing when she was the only one who understood the joke.

    We thought her strange; low class, but Pinky Rose fooled us all.

    It was a surprise when, amid the hub-bub of trying out for the school play, Cats, Pinky was found at the very end of the line that queued up outside of the gym. The routine was to go up on stage when we were called, read our lines or sing our song, and then take a seat in the audience section. Most of us had been through it before; we all had expectations we would get the lead role in the play. When it was my turn, I walked up on stage with confidence.

    “What role are you trying out for, Rachel?”


    “I assume you’re singing ‘Memory,’ second stanza?”

    “Of course,” I said. I faced the director and began “Memory, all alone in the moonlight . . .”

    I hesitated a moment when Mr. Duncan raised his hand for me to stop, sure that there would be an applause, but I heard nothing so I quickly exited the stage and went to sit with my friends. After me, girl after girl said they were auditioning for the lead Grizabella, but I knew no one could sing Memory as well as me.

    After several hours of tedium, everyone signing the first stanza, the director yelled to his assistant, “How many before the final girl?” We knew he was talking about Pinky Rose, and cattily wondered what kind of lame performance she would give. We thought she might be trying for Rumpus Cat, which was a spoken part, thinking the name fitted her aptly.

    The place fell deadly quiet as Pinky stomped her booted feet up the steps to stand in front of the director, sitting at his table on stage.

    “Well, Pinky, you are the final try-out. I don’t suppose you’re going for something other than the lead role?” My friends and I snickered; even the director could see she was a loser.

    “No, I am trying out for Grizabella, who is a very lonely and decrepit outcast in the play. I have the experience, Mr. Duncan, and I’ll start with the first stanza.”

    “Oh. Okay, Pinky.”

    The pianist, Mrs. Simpson, began the melody for Memory for the hundredth time that day, but stopped after a minute because Pinky did not begin. After a moment of thought, Pinky had turned away from the director and instead faced us, her audience. Mrs. Simpson began again.

    Pinky opened her mouth and “Midnight, not a sound from the pavement . . .” came out. She sang the entire song in perfect pitch, all five stanzas. The director, who had not let any of us get much beyond the first few lines, never stopped her. He seemed to be listening with rapt attention, as were we all.

    When she had finished, facing us still, she bowed and then smiled with tears in her eyes.

    She had been singing to us, I thought.

    There was only a second of stunned silence, but before she could even leave the stage, students were standing and applauding and screaming the name of the girl who gave us the most beautiful performance we had ever witnessed, myself included. I was surprised to feel tears on my cheeks as well.

    Pinky Rose had fooled us all. She deservedly won the lead; I got Rumpus Cat.
    When the night has come
    And the land is dark
    And the moon is the only light we'll see
    I won't be afraid, no I won't be afraid
    Just as long as you stand by me.

  10. #10
    Mentor Megan Pearson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
    In your garden. Prefer lantana but star flowers and sea holly will do.
    Blog Entries
    Final Girl (650 words)

    Written in honor of a friend who passed away a couple of weeks ago. Fictionalized, of course, but hopefully people who knew her would recognize her.
    "A ship in the harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for."
    ~ John A. Shedd

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